A KNIFEMAN stalked Home Office staff asking if they worked for the Government before slashing an employee’s face, it is claimed.
Armed cops today arrested a ponytailed suspect over an alleged stabbing in Westminster – as a blood-soaked man in his 60s was led away from the scene.
It is now thought that the assailant – bizarrely in possession of a ferret and tear gas – approached the victim outside the Home Office’s Central London HQ.
He is thought to have asked the contractor, a Ministry for Housing civil servant, if he was a government employee before stabbing the man in the head, the Mail Online reports.
The site understands a female government employee was also approached by the assailant outside the building before the attack.
Dramatic photos show the shirtless worker nursing his wounded head as blood dripped from his chest after the incident at 1pm on Thursday.
Cops have now confirmed the man’s injuries are neither life-threatening or life-changing. His family has been informed.
Police said terror is a current a line of enquiry, with a spokesman adding: “We are keeping an open mind on the motive”.
Reports suggest the worker may have been targeted because he was wearing his Government pass.
Armed police swooped to the scene within six minutes, arresting a 29-year-old man on suspicion of GBH on the steps of St John’s church.
The suspect was also held on suspicion of being armed with tear gas.
A ferret in a plastic green basket was dumped at the arrest scene, alongside a knife in a sheath, an Oyster card and a rucksack.
The ferret is alive and well and has been taken into the care of police, The Independent understands.
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A train ticket found also suggests the suspect could have travelled from Birmingham to London to carry out the broad daylight stabbing.
Witnesses today told chilling accounts of how they watched a “6ft scruffy” man remove a “long knife” from his bag – calmly walking through the capital’s busy streets before the attack.
One source said the man was asking staff if they worked for the Home Office before the “unprovoked” knifing.
Home Office worker Keith Thorpe, 70, told The Sun Online: “The victim was bleeding profusely from his face. He was covering his eye quite a bit and blood had dropped all down his face.”
He said the reception area was left “blood-splattered” as armed guards locked down the Home Office building.
A local woman, who lives near the church, added: “I heard a commotion, I didn’t know what it was. It was a man’s scream.
“The scream was either one of violence or fear. It was really loud shouting.”
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Fellow witness Shaun Malston, an estate agent who works across the road, told The Sun: “There was a commotion outside, everyone started running in different directions.
“I saw people running into the Home Office. Some security people came out of the Home Office and told everyone to get back in.
“Then I saw them bring the gentleman out – he had no shirt on, just his suit trousers and jacket.
“There was all this blood down his chest. They escorted him out and into the ambulance.”
Eyewitness Gareth Milner was eating his lunch when “a number of armed police officers arrived”.
He said: “Some time later a gentleman with quite a bloodied face and with dressing pressed into his face was escorted out of the Home Office by a paramedic.”
Police confirmed the man had been attacked outside the Peel building which houses four Government departments – the Home Office, UK Border Agency, Identity and Passport Service and the Department for Food and Rural Affairs.
Around 6,000 staff are currently based at the seven-floor facility, which was opened in 2005 and is not accessible to the public.
Cops initially thought the man suffered life-threatening injuries and he was rushed to a Major Trauma Centre.
His condition is now stable.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who recently gave police increased powers for stop-and-search, tweeted: “All my thoughts are with the victim and their family following horrific unprovoked knife attack on Marsham Street.”
The news comes on the same day as the Home Office launched an anti-knife crime campaign using chicken takeaway boxes.
A Met Police spokesperson confirmed they were called to Marsham Street just after 1pm “following a report of a man with a knife.”
They said: “One man has been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and taken to a police station.”
The Home Office described it as “a deeply concerning incident”.
New Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP added: “I am deeply shocked by this horrific attack on a colleague today.
“My thoughts, and those of all my staff, are with him and his family. We are ready to provide as much support as we can and we all wish him a speedy recovery.
“We will be reviewing security across the MHCLG estate. All our staff must feel safe as they go about their important work.
“I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the police, ambulance service and our staff for their swift response today.”
London has been in the grips of a terrifying spate of knife attacks, with last year the capital’s bloodiest in a decade.
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The number of homicides reached 132 – and it shows no signs of abating.
As of August 13 this year, there have been 86 violent deaths in the capital.
Shocking figures revealed knife crime in England and Wales has soared to a record high, with 43,000 offences last year.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to crack down on knife crime since she got one of the top jobs in Boris Johnson’s new Government. She has granted cops extra stop and search powers in a bid to tackle violent crime.
Boris has also vowed 20,000 more officers, 10,000 more prison cells and £100million for extra security to stop knives being brought into jails.